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P.E.I. nurses frustrated by stalled collective bargaining after election call


Frustration is coming to a head for nurses on Prince Edward Island after two years without a contract.

Over the two-year period, the PEI Nurses Union and Health PEI have met for meetings 25 times.

The president of the PEI Nurses Union, Barbara Brookins, said they were approaching a critical point.

"Just as we felt that we were making some kind of momentum, we had our dates in March cancelled,” said Brookins. “We were told that we were under the caretaker convention, which is not even true, because we are Heath PEI employees, not public service employees."

The caretaker government convention contains rules on what government can and cannot do during an active election campaign, including collective bargaining. It came into effect as soon as the writ was dropped.

In a news release, Health PEI said they've been advised they do fall under the rules, meaning it cannot continue negotiations while the election is ongoing.

Officials said they have offered new dates in mid-April to resume talks.

Brookins said there is 24.4 per cent vacancy rate among registered nurses and nurse practitioners, adding that the expired contract is at least partly to blame.

"Salary rates that might have been good back two years ago, but are certainly not competitive with the Atlantic region right now," said Brookins.

The PEI Nurses Union is planning a rally in Charlottetown on Monday.

They’re also not the only health-care workers in the province's health system without an agreement.

By the end of March, all of the CUPE health-care support workers and nurses in the PEI Union of Public Sector Employees will be without a contract as well. Top Stories

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